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Hunt James Henry Leigh

Hunt, James Henry Leigh (1785-1859), an English poet, author, and journalist, was born near London, and received his education at Christ's Hospital, of which he was a Grecian at the time of his leaving. Entering at first into the office of his brother, who was an attorney, he afterwards had a post in the War Office, where he remained till 1808, having already published some poems and contributed to his brother's paper, The News. In 1808 he, with his brother, started the Liberal paper, The Examiner, and the fearlessness of the brothers in its conduct brought them under the arm of the law. They were prosecuted and tried before Lord Ellenborough for an article against flogging in the navy. Mr. Brougham defended them, and the trial resulted in an acquittal. A second trial in 1812 for an attack upon the Prince Regent brought them a fine of £500 and two years' imprisonment. Leigh Hunt's cell became a literary centre, and he appears to have had a comfortable time in it. Several of his works were written at this period, one of these being the Story of Rimini, which was ridiculed by Theodore Hook and others. In 1818 Hunt published a volume of original poems and translations, and in 1819 began a series of some of his best essays in the Spectator, a weekly paper then started. In 1822 he went to Italy to join Byron and Shelley in order to concert with them the scheme of a paper to be called the Liberal. Soon after Hunt's arrival Shelley was drowned; the paper only survived a few months, and Byron and Hunt parted, the latter living for some years in Italy. In 1847 the Liberal Government gave him a pension of £200. As a poet he excelled in word-painting to the point of exaggeration, and his prose style was easy and graceful. He was editor of various papers, and contributed much to periodicals. Among his more important works, which were very numerous, may be cited his Autobiography, Table Talk, Legend of Florence (drama), and A Jar of Honey from Mount Hybla. He also published editions of many of the older English dramatists, and one of Sheridan.